My reading pattern lately has included reading fiction and non-fiction book simultaneously. It’s something I’ve never done before. I’ve always been a one book at a time reader, but the last ten or twelve books I’ve read have been six non-fiction with six fiction. Oh and an audio book being thrown into the mix for good measure, now I’ve signed up to Audible (more on that in a later post).
To qualify non-fiction for a second. What I’m referring to here is a non-fiction book. Newspapers, journals, editorials, etc. all count but they tend to be pieces of writing with a smaller amount of dedicated reading time.
In the past, I’ve attempted to read multiple fiction books and found it a little distracting and at times even a bit frustrating. Distracting, because I find I’m thinking of one story while trying to read another and at times frustrating because if one story trumps (sorry to use that awful word guys!) another story, then I’ll want only to read the better of the two. I hate leaving a book unread. This is why I read through Birdsong… just wasn’t my cup of tea, sorry (o;
These are the reasons I’ve lived the one book at a time motto. Non-fiction books have been making their way into my book collection and onto my kindle. When I had a look at what I had, I thought I better start reading them, so I cracked one open and began. During this initial break away from fiction, I realised I needed something imaginative to peruse so I grabbed a fiction book from my to be read pile and began that also. What I found was a surprise. I found reading a non-fiction book, something related to facts, knowledge, and learning made me focus, think deeper and enjoy more of my fiction book of choice.
My thinking is that this is feeding the right side of my brain what it needs with non-fiction given that it is the logical, rational and ordered thinking side while the left side of my brain enjoys art, free and random thinking and imagination. It would make sense until I found a report regarding a research study that has started the ball rolling on debunking this theory.
Anyway, I’ve found benefits to reading both simultaneously as opposed to reading multiple fiction books or multiple non-fiction books at the same time.
Let me know what you think or if you have a preference?
A Masters degree in creative writing.
Advice on whether to study this is mixed at best. The verdict is that people simply don’t know whether you need some formal study to become a writer or better writer.
A nice piece I found on the Guardian.com describes what a lot of writers think about writing courses, that
A. That is cannot be taught
B. That a course can only enhance what talent the writer naturally has, to begin with.
This might be so but there are other merits I believe to studying a writing course, whether it be taken in a University or otherwise. Firstly a formal course will expose you to other forms of writing and teach you how to work with a variation of the craft. By this, I mean writing poetry or script writing or non-fiction. Using the course I plan on taking with the Open University in Ireland as an example, I have the option to choose two different styles of writing. The choices are fiction, script, poetry, and non-fiction. Having the choice to tackle two styles teaches new techniques and perspectives on the craft itself. Pushing one’s skills into another area may change their writing, in general, for the better.
Another benefit to studying a course is the access you gain to not only a community of like minded people but experts in the area too, in the form of lecturers and tutors. Using the resources at hand on a writing course can only help when it comes to shaping the craft of writing and pushing it to the next level. Critical analysis and critique of your work can be tough to take. It can be even harder to find people to do it sometimes. Having assignments and people paid to read and work through them in depth can only help a writer become an even better writer.
There are other benefits to studying regardless of the subject. It can be liberating to feel you are gaining knowledge about a particular subject and bettering yourself in the process. I, myself am a life long learner and would happily study anything but, from now and for the next two years it’ll be the Masters of Creative Writing (o;
Two preparatory books I’ve been working through are recommended for the course I’m about to start. The first is Creative Writing: A Workbook with Readings and the second is Creative Writing: A Workbook with Readings . I’ve found both books to be very comprehensive and the readings in each are excellent pieces to teach with. I’d recommend them to anyone who writes or is thinking about writing.
So, that’s it on the Masters in Creative Writing. I’ll update on how it is going but as always let me know what you think about writing courses below.
Until next time (o:
Every writer has come to the point where things become muddy, sticky, and possibly monotonous. Is it writer’s block? Sure. Is it becoming bored with your own story? Maybe. Is it the dullness of life or a perpetual northern winter or a life event that arrives like a stray lightning bolt and saps you of any motivation to get to the page? Of course.
As a writer I admit I have been there. All of us have. But what can you do to get out of that funk? How can you rise above yourself and this particular situation with your friend or family member that just won’t leave you?
I believe the answer lies in what can be called a Muse. It’s the age old question. What can the artist (in this case writer) do to keep, well…
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